Here's one thing (of millions) that I hate about myself: I deeply resent rich, thin, women. Especially tall white ones who look like nothing bad or difficult has ever happened to them or ever will.
Resentment isn't quite it actually, but it's not exactly straight envy either. It's some toxic brew of snap judgment, contempt, jealousy, and anger. I try to deal with it through humor, and often do, as any regular reader of this blog knows.
But I hate the way it makes me feel, and I hate what it says about my character. I hate that I'm not cool enough with myself to just live mindfully in the present, with a Zen sense of inner direction, instead of invidiously measuring myself against some cookie cutter standard of mainstream Western beauty and success all the time.
I strive for that, but usually fall woefully short of this goal, as I did today under somewhat unusual circumstances.
The beach at a reservoir in Boulder, Colorado was primo hunting ground for my lesser angels, all of whom were zeroed in with laser focus on two mid to early 30-ish moms with five kids between them.
The brunette was wearing a blue and white strapless bikini and a floppy hat over her straight ponytail. The other was blonde with a dainty headband the width of a pencil, and she had on a pink string bikini. Neither had thighs that touched each other in a standing position, and neither looked like she had borne children, though their physical resemblance to various kids in their surrounding brood made it clear they both had.
That's because, I concluded with a bilious silent rage, they obviously don't have to work in OR outside their homes. Here they are in the middle of a weekday in uber upscale Boulder with their kids, looking neither like women who've been forced to earn a paycheck recently nor like harried stay-at-home moms who get by on no help.
Nope. These were moms with enough time and money to make their full-time job staying thin and tan and looking like cover models for a yoga magazine while their husbands made oodles of money all day.
I pushed aside some goose turds with the toe of my sandal and moved on to feeling superior for living in Alaska, where there are neither dessicated goose turds, nor stupid bureaucratic rules about if or where to swim outdoors, nor rail-thin supermodel moms just lounging around in bikinis in the middle of a Wednesday under a punishing sun.
Suddenly though, my stream of contemptuous consciousness was interrupted by a sound that took me a second to identify. When I did, the blood froze in my veins and revealed thousands of years of human evolution.
It was a mom screaming in a way that only an emergency involving a child can provoke, and it was coming from the blonde pink bikini mom. She was crouched over one of her kids and screaming for help, and for someone to call 911, because her daughter was dying.
In fact, her 3.5 year-old daughter wasn't dying. She was having a seizure, but no one knew that right away, and regardless a kid having a seizure is a terrifying sight.
I felt an instinctive, sudden, and almost violent empathy toward this woman, whom I had been secretly reviling for no good reason only three seconds earlier. It was almost as if her panic transferred directly into every synapse in my body, where it was internalized and translated into action, all in a nanosecond.
But being a useless lawyer, there was no action I could take besides scream for my father-in-law, who is a doctor, kick off my sandals, and sprint up the beach as fast as I could to retrieve him.
He joined a fast-growing huddle of lifeguards and medical professionals, all of whom quickly identified the seizure for what it was.
I heard pink bikini mom say her husband was a doctor and saw her pass her iPhone to a lifeguard to explain what had happened. Brynn was probably going to be just fine, seizures are common in children, it usually looks worse than it is, and so on. The immediate danger was over.
I knew my own empathic panic was tailing off too, because I had the presence of mind to think to myself, "Of COURSE her husband is a fucking doctor and her kid's name is Brynn! Why wouldn't this woman be married to a doctor and have a daughter named Brynn?"
But hey, look. I might be petty and judgmental, but I'm not some sort of sociopath, which is my basic point here.
I was deeply and profoundly relieved that this child hadn't drowned or choked or anything, and even through the haze of my fast-resuming resentment of Brynn's smoking hot mom, I felt both relief for the abated emergency and sadness that their day at the beach turned into a trip to the ER and a battery of tests on one of the most precious people in pink string bikini-clad woman's life.
I know I'm going to be thinking about Brynn's pink bikini/no-touch thighs mom for a long time, hoping her daughter's seizure was a one-time thing and nothing more serious than that. I mean, we're both moms after all. We both have that primal fear and fierce urge to protect our collective offspring. It's a force that binds all female primates together on some level, no matter what size their thighs are, or how much money they have.
For those few brief seconds, I actually felt close to Brynn's mom somehow, and had she still been standing nearby, instead of up in the parking lot with the ambulance, I would have tried to hug her.
I still secretly hate that bitch though. I'm not proud of it, but it's the God's Honest Truth.
Do you know what I'm saying?